Evolutionary dynamics on graphs

Nature. 2005 Jan 20;433(7023):312-6. doi: 10.1038/nature03204.


Evolutionary dynamics have been traditionally studied in the context of homogeneous or spatially extended populations. Here we generalize population structure by arranging individuals on a graph. Each vertex represents an individual. The weighted edges denote reproductive rates which govern how often individuals place offspring into adjacent vertices. The homogeneous population, described by the Moran process, is the special case of a fully connected graph with evenly weighted edges. Spatial structures are described by graphs where vertices are connected with their nearest neighbours. We also explore evolution on random and scale-free networks. We determine the fixation probability of mutants, and characterize those graphs for which fixation behaviour is identical to that of a homogeneous population. Furthermore, some graphs act as suppressors and others as amplifiers of selection. It is even possible to find graphs that guarantee the fixation of any advantageous mutant. We also study frequency-dependent selection and show that the outcome of evolutionary games can depend entirely on the structure of the underlying graph. Evolutionary graph theory has many fascinating applications ranging from ecology to multi-cellular organization and economics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Ecology
  • Genetic Drift
  • Models, Biological*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Population Dynamics
  • Probability
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Stochastic Processes